Category Archives: Doug Bond

Doug Bond’s flash

Rock Scissors Paper Do the Write Thing by Doug Bond

Neither of the three of them could remember who first suggested the idea, in fact for a short while they even fought about it, but the point is, after years of discord, their silly feud was finally over, and to commemorate the joyous event they pooled their money and went out for dessert.

Triple-decker layer cake! Mmmmm! Rock got so excited he fell into it, splattering them all with frosting. “Oh, man I am such a dolt!”

“No biggie!” said Scissors, promptly trimming away Rock’s offenses, cutting the remaining cake into three perfectly equal portions.

Paper was the last one holding a fork, so wrapped up the leftover bits in case anyone got hungry later.

Suddenly, out of nowhere they were intruded upon by a newcomer, Pencil, who threaded between them urgently demanding protection from Rock. “Help! There are some who want to break me!”

At Scissors, Pencil screamed, “Keep me shaved. I mustn’t ever be dull!”

And lastly, turning to Paper, who had discreetly crumpled into a ball, and was looking to duck into a corner waste can, “Lay yourself flat and yield me your emptiness!”

Paper obliged, with Rock and Scissors servicing their new friend as directed, and the four of them engaged in this way, creative and uncontested for a full 52 weeks before any of them noticed the inscription running along the length of Pencil’s wood, stopping just short of the eraser. It said, “All the best: ME, JWC & WB!”
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We are walking outside together by Doug Bond

He was 4. I was 40. The day was bright and we were two gentlemen at
home with a day of things to do. And then that sound I thought I
heard. One I’d never heard. And the phone ringing. His mother in Park
Slope. And the big eyes looking up saying, “What’s happened? What is
it Daddy?”

Why I thought we should walk down I don’t know. I felt crawly sitting
in front of the TV. Felt it right to go see what we could see. That’s
I think what I said, singing, for some reason, “The bear went over the
mountain….” And he answered, “…To see what he could see.”

The Promenade. A front row seat it turned out. Hard candies in my
pockets I put him up on my shoulders. On my shoulders. Time ran in a
direction it never ran before and then he said, “The building fell out
of the sky.”

We ran, walked, ran, double ran, back. Gina was already there. Furious
for what I had let him witness. We had only been separated since
earlier that summer. There was still so much anger, waiting in
reserve, tinder.

We worked with him. He drew us pictures. Black crayons, red arrows,
tiny lines in different colors arcing down the sides. Gina and I took
turns holding him. Holding each other.

He is 14. I am 50. He runs in screaming with his mother, hopping up
and down with the news. We are walking outside together.

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Bare Branches by Doug Bond

When they finally dredge the boy up from the bottom of the pond he lifts high on the winch dangling like a forgotten Christmas ornament tucked alone between bare branches. Swinging in a night with no wind, he is lowered in arcs and stutters by a man busy at black knobbed controls towards a father so racked in grief and loosed with bourbon no one stands anywhere near him. Mercifully, the color and catalog of struggle is masked by a sun an hour past setting. Even the search lights turn haltingly away from the sudden clamor of connection for what it was everyone has been trying to find.

I am close enough that pond water waves ripple up close to where I stand apart from the others, watching breathlessly as dank weeds and rivulets of water slip from sloped arms and skewed feet. They are bare, blue tinged and rest limply without the shoes that lie buried as ransom in the muck.

Women hold their children and men hold their dogs and I finally let go my breath into a wailing siren sounding for nothing but for its leaving. And with darkness fully down and the houselights bright across the banks I hop logs and run streaming through low branches thick with webs and wide leaves and pull the heavy air wet into my lungs until bounding up the back steps I go looking for my daughter, but find she is already gone to her mother’s for the night.

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The Lice Storm by Doug Bond

When I picked her up Janey couldn’t speak she was shaking so much. Her
face was pinking. She looked miserable. I asked her how it was. She
said, “Wonderful, Mom!”

“Wonderful?” They must have told her to say that. Just another one of
their hooks. There was nothing they wouldn’t do.

The terms of the “intervention” stipulated I’d get her for only a few
hours after school on Fridays. Supervised, of course.

I’d been on thin ice from day one with these people. First, the
warning, registered mail, from the power-bitch mom attorney downtown.
It was terse: “I hope what I saw on your daughter’s head was dandruff.
A thorough and regular hair wash is advised.” A week later, the clerk
of the Health and Safety committee called to reiterate the school’s
strict “No Nit” policy. Someone wrote “Lousy Bitch!” in bright red
lipstick on my windshield.

Then they finally put the clamps on.

I’d just pecked her on the cheek, handed her lunch when a phalanx of
them, five across, came bearing down the sidewalk and were upon us
like a line of dark clouds.

They lifted the hair above her nape, and began dictating notes for the
exam “Inflamed. Crusty. Scabby. Add the mother to the relinquish
list!”

The one in the tight tweed jacket and the frosty white hair winked as
she told me that whoever got her would treat her like their own. And
then she took my car keys and tossed them in the bowl.

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Burnt Biscuits by Doug Bond

Herb Bernstein was a tool-head, a sparkplug, wiry and overcharged. On
any given weekend you could see him folded under the hood, lubricating
this and tightening that.

Every now and again his wife Bea, would hear the engine screech, then
tire flung gravel pocking the tin shed. When she drew in for breath,
her chest cavity swelled to jumbo size.

Normally she kept the kitchen windows shut, but with the oven on and
the first batch burnt, Bea had them pushed wide open. It was hot too,
unseasonable it seemed to her, this early in spring.

The noise was something she’d been learning to get along with, but if
she had a bone to pick, it was the grease and the grime on his clothes
and his nails always black. It looked like torture, all that bending
and torquing, but she knew Herb took great delight in his labors. He
could keep at it for hours at a time. This was “his thing,” he had
told her when they met last Fall. Bea had learned to keep inside, give
him space.

Setting the second tray of biscuits down, Bea strained to lean over
the sink, and pressed her face towards the open screen. “Herb! Please,
Honey…Come on in for some lunch?”

Clanking a menthol cough drop against his molars, Herb looked straight
over the dash, his jaw creased, foot on the pedal, mumbled “Fatty”
under the growing roar of the engine, and dropped the shift into gear.

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Not knowing what I know by Doug Bond

The smiling parents turn their back, both at the same time, for just a
second to look at the high school boy who caught the Frisbee at the
very last moment and rolled over like a stuntman on the sand. That’s
when the toddler’s little legs get pulled under and I see it.

There’s a soundtrack playing in my head when it happens and it happens
this way all the time. Sun skitter, dogs, kites, laughter. Slow motion
pink pale splashing and the wave washing away from shore. It’s a
disease, this jolt I’ve grown close to and the wonderfully deep
screaming that looses inside.

LOOK NOW! HELP! PLEASE! Someone tell them. I can feel my mouth
opening. I’m about to…but the wave really only came calf high and she
runs giddy-scream backwards and mom and dad, still smiling, hold her
tightly, not knowing what I know, that someday, it will come to her,
in a place they know well and I won’t be there to make it not happen.

It could be a canoe, the one they will leave at the edge of their
pond, the rope swing, a rifle on the wall, an unlocked door or the
drunk man in the Buick down the street. Let me tear out my eyes,
beautiful girl, and place them where I know that you’ll need them,
like I should have know for my own little boy, who like you, was
staring straight ahead and couldn’t have seen anything other than
light.

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Dómine, non sum dignus by Doug Bond

Train station’s not far, not even a mile, so we leave the cars off the side of Dad’s drive. The four of us holding longnecks rustled up from the basement fridge, Dad says, “Time of your life. Enjoy!”

Gene carries the suitbag with all our stuff for the New Year’s party packed in, and Frank’s got the big duffel. We stash the extra Rolling Rocks into Cresci’s coat pockets. There’s still some light, so I herd them up the short-cut through the cemetery.

I tell them it’ll take us fifteen minutes, tops, and light up the joint, start reciting the names I’d known as a kid: Luciano. Caruso. D’Amico. Arciola. Valiante.

Once we’re among the stones, Cresci gets animated and runs over to the Salvatore Mausoleum. Gene follows and when he tries the door, the latch lifts and he freezes.

“Push up and swing it out,” I say. The door jamb scrapes the footstone in front and stops, but there’s room for us to squeeze through one at a time. Frank’s the last one in and he leaves the joint out on the icy path. It’s been a long time since I’ve been inside.

Cresci starts into some mock Latin, crosses himself. We’re belly-laughing so hard, we’re sweating, and I say, “Shhh!” putting my ear up against the cold hard casket.

For a short while we’re locked, perfectly still, listening, and then all at once we hear it, the resolute signal blast of the inbound train heading for the station.

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